Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Jan 10, 2010 05:16 AM

Thinking about buying Sabatier Carbon Steel Knife-Any Thoughts?

I'm looking for a good chef's knife. I read somewhwere that 100% carbon steel maintains a sharper blade, though it rusts. At one point in time, we had a carbon steel knife and it was really sharp (we never sharpened it) and it developed rust spots.

It is either this or a Wusthoff Classic. Which one?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Well, they are almost oppose. Wusthof Classic knives are made from X50CrMoV15 very corrosive resistant (very stain resistant). They are more stainless than many stainless and they are very tough knives but soft. In other words, the edge get easily rolled, but they are resistant against chipping.

    I think most carbon steel knives are the other way around. They are prone to rust, can take a very fine edge, the edge does not roll easily, but can chip from time to time. It really depends your style.

    1. For general use consider a stainless knife. First you have to be committed to good knife care when using a carbon steel knife. You want patina not rust to form. Rust is corrosive and will destroy your knife. Carbon steel knives can react with certain foods to cause unpleasant odors a off tastes. You will note this when cutting an onion or fruit with a carbon blade. Carbon can cause certain foods to oxidize more rapidly after being cut. If I were to have 1 knife it would be stainless. But why limit yourself. Each has it's attributes and can excel at certain jobs.

      1 Reply
      1. re: scubadoo97

        I have a number of both carbon steel knives -- including a Sabatier slicing knife and a Wusthof 10-inch chef's knife. I can testify that you can get a peerless level of fine edge, but are subject to the limitations cited in the various posts. I also have a number of Wusthof Classic stainless, which are much harder to keep at a really fine edge, but otherwise are very good for everyday use.

      2. It all depends on how much effort you want to put into caring for your knife. If you want to just use it, wipe it off and throw it back in the knife drawer, I'd suggest a stain-resistant one like the Wusthof. I have a high-carbon Masamoto, and I maintain it by rubbing it down with mineral oils at the end of my shifts (I'm a chef). If you do this, your knife will discolor, but won't develop harmful rust, and eventually, the discoloration will develop into a sort of protective barrier that makes it less prone to develop the harmful rust. It only takes a minute, you just have to remember to do it. I've forgotten it every once in a while, and my knife is still fine and holds an amazing edge. So it just depends on how involved with your knife you want to be.

        1. Why are your choices limited to a Sabatier or a wusthoff classic?

          Carbon sabatiers will take a very nice sharp edge, but they don't hold it as well as a carbon steel Japanese knife. Sabs don't really hold their edge for all that long - they use a fairly soft carbon steel. Some of the clad carbon Japanese knives are easier to maintain because they form a protective patina on the edge while the sides of the knife are stainless. Sabs are slightly quicker to sharpen though.

          Maintenance for carbon isn't bad - wipe down the blade every couple minutes during use, wash and dry immediately after use, oil if putting into storage, and no dishwashers. Sounds like more work than it is, really. If you live a very humid place - Hawaii, for example - you could have more rust problems than most.

          I personally like old carbon Sabs, but they wouldn't be my first choice as a chef knife from a functional standpoint.

          4 Replies
          1. re: cowboyardee

            I live on the central west coast of Florida. I have a Hiromoto HC (high carbon) gyuto. No rust or significant patina forming even though this 300mm beast is in the case more than it ever gets used. I hear of people putting oil on their carbon knives to keep rust from forming. I just don't see that happening and it's about as humid as you can get here. I also leave two carbon steel knives out after use. They are washed and dried but stay out on a cutting board most of the time. No rust issues there either.

            1. re: scubadoo97

              Thanks for the reply scubadoo. I live in western PA, so I'm speculating about humid climates based only on what I've heard. I've read specifically about people having problems in Hawaii, living very near the ocean. I believe it may even have as much to do with salt as with humidity (I know salt speeds rusting - I have no idea how it would get from the ocean to one's kitchen).

              At any rate, its good to know that my carbon knives would hold up should I decide to move to Florida. Given the winter we're having up here so far, that sounds tempting - I don't need many more excuses.

              1. re: cowboyardee

                26 degrees this morning. Doesn't seem like Florida to me.

                Also, I'm 1.5 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. My Hiromoto is in it's box in a kitchen drawer but my other carbons are sitting out.

                1. re: scubadoo97

                  It's entirely possible the people I heard from were blaming the elements for their ineptitude.

                  Also - it looks like you'll be in the 50s today and the 70s later in the week. Our high for the day is 25. Florida is still looking up, Anyone from Fargo want to chime in?

          2. I have several Sabatier carbon steel knives that I have had for years. I love them. They are not beautiful, but I love them. Patina would be a kind word, and since I love them, let's use that. They are so easy to put an edge on. You can avoid rust spots by drying the knife right after washing it, but the rust spots don't affect the knife other than looking bad.